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Fingers-on: CalDigit TS4 – the very best Thunderbolt dock will get even higher [Video]

4 years in the past, once I acquired the unique CalDigit TS3 Plus dock, I known as it the very best Thunderbolt dock accessible for Mac customers. Since its launch, many docks have come and gone, however the TS3 Plus remained one in every of my favourite Thunderbolt equipment.

Lately CalDigit launched the successor to the TS3 Plus, merely named TS4. Is CalDigit’s TS4 a worthy follow-up to the TS3 Plus? As you’ll see in my hands-on, the TS4 is a refined and extra succesful dock than its predecessor.

Quite a bit has modified because the authentic TS3 Plus got here on the scene. There’s Thunderbolt 4, which is constructed on high of USB 4, and backward appropriate with Thunderbolt 3. And one of many extra notable adjustments is that the the iPad Professional now features a Thunderbolt 4 port, which affords full compatibility with the TS4.

The unique TS3 Plus was a big {hardware} launch, not solely as a result of it included an absurd 15 ports, however due to the kind of ports that it included. For example, it was one of many first docks to incorporate a UHS-II-compatible SD Card slot. The TS4 builds on the muse established by its forebear, and features a ridiculous 18 ports of I/O, with fairly a number of further enhancements.

Video: CalDigit TS4 – the very best Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4 dock for Mac

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The TS4 is jam-packed with 18 ports in a comparatively small kind issue. Right here’s a have a look at every little thing it consists of:


  • 1 x upstream Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 port (98W)
  • 2 x downstream Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 ports (15W)
  • 3 x USB-C 3.2 information ports (10Gbps, 1 x 20W, and a pair of x 7.5W)
  • 5 x USB-A 3.2 ports (10Gbps and seven.5W offline charging)
  • 1 x SD Card reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)
  • 1 x microSD Card reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)
  • 1 x DisplayPort 1.4
  • 1 x 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet port (supported by Thunderbolt or USB4 host)
  • 1 x entrance combo audio jack (3.5mm) (with precedence over rear jacks)
  • 1 x rear audio jack in (3.5mm)
  • 1 x rear audio jack out (3.5mm)

Further specs

  • Peak 5.55″ (141.0mm) x Width 1.65″ (42.0mm) x Size 4.46″ (113.4mm)
  • Helps vertical or horizontal orientation
  • 1 x DC enter (19.5V 11.80A)
  • 98W energy ship to host
  • Kensington Safety Slot
  • Helps twin 4K displays
  • Helps a single 8K monitor
  • Weight: 1.41lbs (0.64kg)
  • 1 x Thunderbolt 4 cable
  • 2 x rubber ft strips
  • 1 x energy wire
  • 1 x energy provide (230w)
  • 2-year guarantee
  • Worth: $360

Design and kind issue

At first glimpse, the TS4 appears practically indistinguishable from its predecessor, however upon additional inspection it turns into clear that there are some design adjustments to consider. Before everything, the TS4 is an even bigger dock than the TS3 Plus. The TS4 is 0.35-inches taller, 0.08-inches wider, and 0.59-inches deeper. CalDigit’s latest dock can be 0.37 lbs heavier than the TS3 Plus. The bigger dock can partly be defined by the additional ports which can be on board, together with the addition of a safety slot.

The TS4 consists of the acquainted all-aluminum ridged design language that’s been featured on many CalDigit merchandise previously. Moreover wanting cool, the ridged design lets the pair of included rubber ft simply hook up with the chassis, affording the dock the flexibility to relaxation on a desktop floor in a horizontal orientation.

In contrast to many docks, that are solely in a position relaxation in your desktop horizontally, taking over a number of desktop floor space within the course of, the CalDigit TS4 lets customers resolve. The dock incorporates a inbuilt rubber floor on the underside to permit it to face vertically as nicely.

In contrast the the 15 ports on the TS3 Plus, the TS4 options 18 ports. What further ports may be discovered on the TS4?

Entrance microSD Card reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)

Having a microSD card reader onboard implies that you now not must hunt for adapters when offloading recordsdata from the smaller playing cards. So many gadgets use microSD playing cards for storage lately, so it’s good to have such a characteristic onboard.

Rear Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 port

Having an additional Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 port means that you may now hook up with a number of Thunderbolt gadgets with no need to daisy chain by way of one other Thunderbolt-enabled machine. This offers customers with a number of additional freedom to attach Thunderbolt exterior drives and different gadgets that terminate at their level of connection. It’s one of many the explanation why I not too long ago used OWC’s Thunderbolt hub in order that I might join a number of Thunderbolt gadgets to a single port on my MacBook Professional.

Entrance 20W USB-C port

The TS4 consists of not only one, however two USB-C ports on the entrance. The second USB-C port is rated at 20W of energy output, which is important as a result of it means that you can hook up with gadgets that require at the least 20W of energy. For instance, Apple recommends a 20W or increased connection for its MagSafe wi-fi chargers.

Rear audio jack out (3.5mm)

That’s 4 further ports, wasn’t there solely imagined to be three extra? The rationale there are 4 new ports is as a result of CalDigit eradicated the Optical Audio connection discovered on the TS3 Plus and changed it with the three.5mm rear audio jack out. The TS4 has two 3.5mm audio output connections — one combo port on entrance that may help headsets with built-in microphones, and one output-only port on the rear — however the entrance combo port takes precedence.

Noteworthy enhancements

The CalDigit TS4 enhancements transcend simply having extra ports than the TS3 Plus, as you’ll discover enhancements made to the beforehand current ports. For instance, the entire dock’s USB ports — together with the USB-A ports — are 10Gbps connections. The Ethernet port, which was beforehand restricted to gigabit Ethernet, can now operate as a 2.5GbE connection when related to a Thunderbolt host. Lastly, the DisplayPort connection will get an improve from DisplayPort 1.2 to model 1.4.

USB energy supply

One of many greatest benefits of Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 is the flexibility to energy related gadgets. The TS4 incorporates a most of 98W of energy supply, as an alternative of the 87W of its predecessor. Therefore, the TS4 can simply energy a 13-inch MacBook Professional or MacBook Air, 14-inch MacBook Professional, or any USB-C-enabled iPad at full pace. The dock also can recharge the 16-inch MacBook Professional, however you’ll must make the most of Apple’s Quick-charge-capable 140W USB-C Energy Adapter for full-speed charging.

Whereas we’re on the subject of energy, CalDigit has made it in order that solely two of the 4 rear USB-A ports provide energy whereas not related to a number machine. That is useful for gadgets that you just don’t wish to obtain powered whereas not related to your Mac.

Twin 4K or 6K show connectivity

The CalDigit TS4 can join accommodate quite a lot of show output configurations based mostly on the kind of gadgets you intend to attach. For instance, M1 Mac customers are restricted to a single exterior 4K or 6K show at 60Hz, whereas M1 Professional/Max customers can join as much as two 4K or 6K shows at 60Hz. Whereas macOS is restricted to 6K at 60Hz, the TS4 can help as much as 8K60 on Home windows if each the pc and show help Show Stream Compression and DisplayPort 1.4.

Decrease resolutions with increased body charges are additionally accessible, with as much as 144Hz at 4K, and as much as 240Hz at 2560×1440. Greater body charges will turn out to be useful when connecting to a gaming monitor.

There are numerous methods to connect with a show by way of the TS4. You’ll be able to join by way of:

  • One of many two accessible Thunderbolt ports
  • DisplayPort 1.4 port
  • DisplayPort → Energetic DisplayPort to HDMI adapter
  • USB-C → HDMI adapter

Understand that the three USB-C solely ports are for information solely. Should you’d like to attach a show by way of USB-C, make sure you make the most of one of many two Thunderbolt ports.

Compatibility with USB-C host gadgets

In contrast to the TS3 Plus, which featured an older Thunderbolt chipset, the TS4 permits customers to connect with each Thunderbolt and non-Thunderbolt USB-C ports. Whereas this gained’t lend entry to Thunderbolt solely peripherals, akin to Thunderbolt SSDs, it’ll enable customers to interface with different gadgets related to the dock. For instance, this is useful when utilizing a USB-C iPad Air or iPad mini.

9to5Mac’s Take

CalDigit’s TS4 could look much like the TS3 Plus, however it’s a big improve over its predecessor. It offers wider compatibility with each Thunderbolt and USB-C hosts, options two downstream Thunderbolt ports as an alternative of only one, options sooner Ethernet connectivity, and is appropriate with a number of 6K shows and even an 8K show when related to correctly configured Home windows machines.

There’s just a few downsides that I can consider with this dock. First is the worth, as a result of at $360 it falls nicely exterior of impulse purchase territory. And as talked about earlier than, the dock can’t cost a 16-inch M1 Professional/Max MacBook Professional at full pace, however that’s merely Thunderbolt limitation. The dock additionally consists of a reasonably large exterior energy provide, though due to the bigger kind issue of the TS4, it doesn’t look as large as earlier than. One last item — I want you could possibly toggle off the white LED on entrance of the dock. It’s straightforward to miss within the daytime, however may be an annoyance in a darkish surroundings.

However these complaints are pretty minor when in comparison with the design and performance of the CalDigit TS4, which incorporates every little thing however the kitchen sink. I really feel like I’m repeating myself right here, however once more, if you happen to’re on the lookout for the very best all-around dock to your Mac, the CalDigit TS4, which is now accessible on Amazon, will get my suggestion.

What do you suppose? Hold forth down beneath within the feedback.

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